Green technology is the application of the environmental science and green chemistry to conserve the natural environment and resources. It aims at curbing the negative impact of human involvement. Secondly, the green technology aims at creating the products that can be fully reclaimed or reused. Another aim of green technology is to reduce waste and pollution by changing the patterns of production and consumption. The green technology also concerns itself with innovation in which it develops alternatives to technologies considered harmful to the environment like fossil fuel. Finally, the technology aims at creating centers of economic activities around the technologies and products that benefit the environment, speeding their implementation and creating new careers that truly protect the planet.
This paper will research on the following types of green technology; Photovoltaic (solar), Green Lighting, Green Buildings, Green Building Certifications, Green Energy Economic Opportunities, and how businesses make green and being Green. The main focus will be to explain how the technology works to ensure sustainable development.
The need for green technology
Today, green technology is considered basic to secure a cleaner tomorrow. The world is at crossroad indicted by the global concern on such issues as global warming dominating the current world debates. The amount of energy being consumed is increasing every year resulting in an increased amount of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere annually. The Berkeley report 2005/2004 projected that by the year 2020, one third of the world’s population may lack access to clean water, air and affordable energy. The estimates also showed that the US energy demand by the same year will have risen to a level that will outpace the nation’s energy production capabilities. It is therefore clear that if necessary measures are not taken, then tomorrow’s generation will suffer environmental hazards and lack enough resources. The world must therefore promote several initiatives designed to mitigate the environmental impacts of the world’s fossil fuel dependent economy and more efficiently utilize today’s energy resources. These must be done alongside environmental friendly human practices and technologies.
Green buildings can also be called sustainable buildings. It refers to the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and resources that are energy efficient throughout a building life cycle. It focuses right from the stage of designing the building, the construction process, the operation, the maintenance practices, any renovation and even demolition. Green buildings are designed in such a way as to protect the occupants health, improve the productivity of the employees, promote the efficient use of energy, water and other resources and finally to reduce the overall impact on the environment. Though it may seem to be costly to put up green building, it lowers the operating cost over the life of the building.
The elements of green building: the first element of the green building is the setting. The site of any green building should be well suited to take advantage of mass transit. Secondly, it must not interfere with the existing landscape and natural features. The plants to be used in the building should also be those with low water and pesticides needs and require minimum pruning. The materials used should also be those that can be recycled.
The second element is energy efficiency. This can be achieved using such strategies as; using passive design strategy like building shape and orientation, passive solar design and making maximum use of the natural light. One should therefore install high efficiency lighting systems with advanced lighting controls. Motion sensors can also be used to enable one put off the light whenever they are not in use. Other measures like dimmable lighting controls and task lighting can also be used. Green building also requires maximum light colors for roofing and wall furnish materials. This can be achieved by installing a high R-value wall and ceiling insulation, and use of minimal glass on east and west exposures. Energy efficiency also requires the use of alternative energy sources such as photovoltaic cells.
The third element is material efficiency. Green building requires strict use of sustainable construction materials and products. Such materials should be those that can be reused or recycled and should have zero or low harmful air emissions. The materials should have zero or low toxicity and should have been harvested in a way that promotes environmental sustainability. Such materials should be durable and produced locally. There should also be plans for managing materials through deconstruction, demolition and construction. Designing should also be done in such a way as to leave adequate space to facilitate recycling and to incorporate a solid waste management program that prevents waste generation.
The forth element is water efficiency. The design should give provision for dual plumbing to allow the use of recycled water for toilet flashing. Other sources of water may include rain water or other non portable water for site irrigation. Water conserving fixers like Ultra low-flush toilets, low flow shower heads can also be used to minimize the wastage on water. For centralized hot water distribution, the recirculation systems are the most appropriate. Install point of use hot water heating systems for more distant locations to conserve the energy. Use the irrigation methods like drip irrigation that avoid wastage of water.
Studies have shown that buildings with overall of these environmental qualities can reduce the rate of respiratory diseases and other diseases like allergy and asthma. This will in turn enhance the worker performance. The indoor air quality of a green house is also improved because of the use of materials with zero or low emissions of toxic gases like formaldehyde. By providing heating and cooling systems, there will be adequate ventilation and proper filtration. Green house also makes it possible to prevent indoor microbial contamination by selecting materials resistant to microbial growth.
Photovoltaic technology converts energy from the solar radiation directly into electricity using semiconductor materials. The technology can last for several decades with minimal maintenance because it has immovable parts. It can be used in both small scale projects like lighting to large scale projects covering larger farms. Though it is expensive than many other sources of electricity, the initial cost can be offset by its benefits. Unlike other sources of energy, it can be located at the user site. It also matches peak demand very well especially in warmer climates and can offset peak electricity rates. Photovoltaic can be installed in any size required by the user. Its only limitation is the requirement of the availability of a sunny roof or ground space and thus its installation does not pose a lot of challenges. A photovoltaic system is made up of a number of components such as the modules, the mounting racks, inverter(s), electrical panel, and a battery bank which is optional.
Photovoltaic works well at a site that is free from the shade most of the day. It requires large open roofs or ground areas with minimal disturbances. If the roof is not flat then it should be tilted to the south. The ground application can use previously disturbed land to minimize its impact on the environment. It also requires minimal roof penetrations of solar installation.
Solar energy is considered as a renewable energy source because it does not destroy the ecosystem and because of its natural presence in the environment. It has an added advantage over all other renewable energy sources such as wind, rain and bio fuels, because of its abundance and availability. Wind for example is either weather specific or it is limited to coastal regions while rainfall varies from one region to another. On the other hand the sun evenly distributed and it is free. Solar energy is considered most environmental friendly for cooking purposes. It can also be used as a strategy to minimize deforestation in the rural areas especially those forested areas with abundance of sunlight. Solar energy can also be used to provide both the cooling and heating space facilities. It also provides a safe substitute for electric light thus reducing its impact on the environmental.
In certain cities solar street lights have been installed to help conserve useful electricity light and thus lowering utility bills. In some nations, solar energy has also been tapped to support military operations and provide portable power system to travelers. It is also used to run wind and steam turbines hence reducing the pollution effects by other sources of energy. The energy is used both as a passive energy form for ventilation and as an active energy form for heating water collectors. It is the safest energy source because it has no side effect to human health whether it is used to generate electricity or in cooking food. Active and solar heating processes are both renewable energy sources because they both use the natural resources sunlight in combination wind mills.
Green lighting is program that aims at promoting energy efficiency through investment in energy saving lighting technologies. It aims at promoting the use of technologies that can help in reducing the rate of energy consumption while delivering the same or better quality lighting. It seeks to address the issues of energy efficiency, environmental pollution and economic competitiveness. It ensures increased profit for businesses by lowering their electricity bills, improving lighting quality and increasing worker productivity. Green lighting is also able to reduce air pollution caused by electricity generation which releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
Lighting accounts for 20% of all electricity sold in the United States. The strategy of green lighting is to change the perception of organizations from that of treating lighting as overhead to that of seeing it as an opportunity for investment. By changing this mindset and joining green lights, some participants have realized an average rate 30% return or more on their initial investmen. The technology has enabled them to reduce their lighting electricity bill while improving the quality of their lighting. The strategy for green light includes keeping glare to a minimum, avoiding the production of direct up-light, use the minimum amount of light needed for the task and put light on only when it is needed. These practices improve visibility while providing a safe environment and reducing the overall cost of energy.
Components of Green energy
Task lighting: it is any localized light source in a person’s work area directed on some activity of task like the use of an adjustable-arm desk lamp. It significantly reduces the overall lighting because it involves putting the light where it is needed. It involves a system that uses task lighting to achieve desired lighting output at the work surface level. It is thus more efficient as well as reducing the level of power consumption. It gives the user the ability to control the direction and intensity of light falling on the work area. Its adjustability makes it suitable for people with different vision requirements. The user can also tilt the adjustable arm task light to determine how much light is needed, and the best required angle to avoid direct glare and reflections.
The use of energy saving bulbs: these include the CFLs also known as the better bulb and the LEDs. The Compact florescent bulbs may be costing a bit more than an incandescent, but it uses about a quarter as much energy and lasts many times longer usually around 10,000 hours (Leitman, 2011). It also releases less heat which makes them appropriate in summer. LEDs, also known as light emitting diodes, are equally extremely efficient and extremely long lasting bulbs. LEDs do not require heating of the filament and so use very little energy. It can reduce energy consumption by 80-90% and lasts around 100,000 hours.
There is also the need to consider the materials that have been used to make the bulbs. One should therefore go for lamps made of natural materials like cloth or wood, recyclable materials like metal, glass or plastic and/or reusable materials. Second precaution is to ensure that one disposes any dead bulb in a proper way. Thirdly, one should ensure to unplug the wall warts/power adaptors because they draw power even when their devise is turned off. Forth measure is to make the most use of daylight. This can be achieved by putting many windows on the south facing side. The lights should only be put on while in use. Finally, motion sensors should be used to help in keeping light turned off whenever they are not in use and dimmers to give just the right amount of light.
Green building certification
The certification programs are offered by the US Greening Building Council (LEED), the National Association of Home Builders, and other bodies. The program aims at providing consumers with a meaningful way to ensure that buildings minimize their impact on the environment. It provides a third-party assessment of green building measures on the wide variety of building types (Eckhardt, 2011). The LEED program score projects based on materials and resources used for building. That is the extent to which the materials used can be recycled and renewed, it also looks at the energy efficiency and the extent of the utilization of renewable energy. On the other hand, the national Green Building Program scores projects on resource conservation. However, all the programs seek to address the use of renewable and recycled materials. For LEED, a building earns points based on its meeting of green building standards in six categories, such as sustainable site, water conservation, energy efficiency, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and green design innovations.
Green Economic Opportunities
Green power is a growing sector of the economy with high rate of increase in number of opportunities that present themselves in various regions. With the governments’ policies on green technology becoming more clarified, regulatory frameworks being more streamlined and the technology being tested, the number of opportunities will be expected to increase further (Kammen, 2004). The challenge is therefore how to come up with a suitable comprehensive plan for a sustainable resource mix. There is also a need to ensure that communities neighboring the sites are organized to participate and effectively benefit from such projects. This will allow the communities to benefit from the additional source of income like through utilizing the market opportunities to sell local resources.
However, the ability of the world to benefit from green technology may be limited by the high level of capital investment required for R&D, the complexity of international and national policy frameworks related to energy production and use and the economic power of energy conglomerate. Currently, the potential is increasing with power generation giants like British Petroleum and Shell investing heavily in renewable sources of energy. Most of the industrialized countries like China are carrying out research on the possibility of meeting their requirements from green alternatives.
With the current concern of the global warming crisis attributed to the non-renewable sources of energy and the fact that their reserves will soon be depleted, there is no doubt that a shift towards the alternative energy sources will be the best option. Scholars have predicted that renewable sources of energy may grow to supply a half of the world’s energy in the near future. Nations are increasingly considering harnessing power from the sun, wind and water. Significant research and development funds have been allocated to new technology development. A part from seeing green technology as a strategy to reduce the emissions of green gases, various nations are now increasingly recognizing the potential of the technology in providing an additional source of employment to their citizens. Many nations are putting various measures in place to reduce market barrier and to improve their tax system. To overcome the challenge posed by the huge capital requirement, some nations have considered including power-smart options especially at the individual household level.
Socially some benefits of green energy like cleaner air and lower environmental impacts also result in social benefits as they reflect key community values. Green projects can often comfortably coexist with the community. Community energy projects that reduce energy costs for residents can have significant benefits particularly for low income families. Economically, green energy projects can create employment opportunities and support the development of new technologies. The health related expenses of the community members are also reduced by the reduction of hazards.
How businesses make green and being Green
It is good to note that every environmental problem has a direct connection to undisciplined business activities. It is therefore the responsibility of the business in general to address the problems that it has caused. Scholars have come up with the green business model to provide an opportunity for business to do the right thing by making green while becoming green. Today, most business enterprises have taken the initiative to invest in upgrading efficient operating equipment. The cost of such equipments may be high but, it is offset by the resulting benefits. Such businesses have made great commitments to improve their daily operation with the view of reducing the environmental impacts.
Adapting to the standards of green practices comes with certain benefits. First, it reduces the cost of business operation. This is because it reduces the business’ expense on electricity, gas water and waste disposal. Secondly, green practices will reduce the amount businesses spend on insurance premiums which are normally lowered for businesses which have met the environmental standards. Third, the green initiatives also teach the employees to be committed to discovering new efficiencies, waste reductions and identify every available saving opportunity
Adapting to green practices also motivates and boosts the morale of the employee. It also increases the loyalty of the employee. This will in turn improve the overall employee satisfaction boosting the productivity of the business (Trask, 2006). The green practices also reduce the risks that the employees are exposed to due to the reduction of hazardous substances. This will result into improved health and wellness of the employees reducing the number of absenteeism cases. Green practices also help the businesses secure their customers and community loyalty. The customers are increasingly becoming aware of the green practices with green products becoming more preferable. In conclusion, green practices allows the business to participate in enhancing the community reputation by protecting the environment, conserving the natural resources and providing safe and healthy work place for the entire business community.
In conclusion, it is clear that green technology is the world’s solution for the problem of the global warming. All the stakeholders should therefore be involved in the process from the individual level, the national and the international level. Nations should consider promoting various green based technology programs such as green lighting and green buildings.